Sally Boyett is an accomplished professional Broadway actress, singer and dancer with numerous national and international credits to her name. The theatre is her passion and how she makes a living. But, as with many art programs during COVID, Sally sought to reinvent her company and pivot to bring her art to the community in a new way while keeping with the socially distant guidelines that govern her industry.
Sally Boyett came to Annapolis 10 years ago by way of Manhattan. Soon after, she founded the Annapolis Shakespeare Company (ASC), a Helen Hayes Award nominated theatre company. As Artistic Director as well as the director, choreographer and playwright, her hands are in every aspect of production. To date, she has 50 productions to her credit.
Sally made a career working with many renowned Broadway directors, choreographers, and performers over the years. Included in her extensive resume are tv specials, commercials and film. She’s also been a member of the Actors Equity Association since the age of 18, when she appeared with the original Broadway cast of 42nd St., in the show’s first regional theatre production.
Dealing with any artistic business in the midst of a pandemic is challenging to say the least, but for Sally Boyett, it was a chance to get her creative juices flowing. First, she had to determine how to get performances underway. Second, she had to determine how to make these performances available to the public. And, being the creative person that she is, she accepted the challenge with full purpose. Sally knew if some of the people couldn’t come to the theatre, then the theatre needed to come to the people!
The in-house production company opted to use a virtual film performance experience to span the gap while people prefer not to leave the security of their own homes, but still desire engaging entertainment. As director of the Annapolis Shakespeare Company, Boyett set about organizing the company to produce a feature film version of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Her team of professional actors are experienced in both stage and screen so it was a natural progression for the company.
Her goal was to meld the timeless story of the ill effects of political ambition, but set it in another historical time period. Colonial America was privy to it’s own political turmoil, just as it was during the days of Shakespeare’s original play.
The rich colonial heritage of Annapolis & Anne Arundel County offers a fantastic backdrop for Sally’s reimagined, Macbeth. The current production takes place in 1781, using Historic London Town and Gardens as a major backdrop, along with St. Anne’s Church, the historic streets of Annapolis and Whitehall, another colonial estate.
On the day of my visit to the film set, the company had just taken a break from filming in the dining room of London Town’s main building, the William Brown House, where the table was set for an authentic colonial meal. Other portions of the London Town historic site are also featured.
‘A rose by any other name,…’
Sally Boyett is the Director for this undertaking, while the feature is produced by Annapolis Shakespeare Company—The Classic Theatre of Maryland, in association with Mario Ramos. Mr. Ramos is a four-time Emmy Award winning producer, director and director of photography.
The film production of Macbeth is planned as a debut for the 2020-21 season of the newly–renamed, “Classic Theatre of Maryland.” Boyett said, “the change in name from the Annapolis Shakespeare Company was a decision based on how the company was evolving.” She further explains, the company is a year-round professional & regional theatre company. They hold over 170 live performances per year, and while they do and will continue to perform Shakespearean works, they also perform other theatrical genres. Classic plays, musicals and a monthly cabaret series with guest artists from Broadway are on the schedule for 2021.
Boyett is proud that her company “is the largest provider of arts education in Anne Arundel County. Providing workshops, matinees, and talk-backs to students across the county, as well as teaching teachers how to teach Shakespeare.”
Additionally, with the Macbeth project, they will produce a companion packet for schools. It will include interesting behind–the–scenes details of the production. It will also teach students how feature films are produced and answer any questions that may come up about the characters, dialog and content. ASC’s current feature film production of Macbeth will be available to schools as a virtual learning tool in late 2020, and to a wider audience in the spring of 2021.
For Sally and her company there is a light at the end of the tunnel. They will resume live theatre performances in November, beginning with the popular holiday performance of A Christmas Carol. An original adaptation by Sally Boyett and Donald Hicken, this family classic will likely sell out.
Starting December 11th is the glittering musical review, Holiday Swing. This performance is a collaboration with the United Jazz Ensemble, featuring New York performers along with favorite Cabaret regulars. For those looking to social distance, both shows will be available to live-stream.
Due to Covid restrictions, social distancing will be practiced for all live theatre performances. Contact the Annapolis Shakespeare Company – The Classic Theatre of Maryland for more information and a complete list of protocols.
To book your tickets or to see a full schedule of events, visit their website here.